Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance, has just presented with the CNC (National Consumption Council), the employers' organization MEDEF and the consumer association UFC-Que Choisir the “standard contract” that the driving schools will have an obligation to present to people wishing to register for their training.
This document, announced in 2019 among the measures relating to the reform of the driving license, aims to offer candidates a comparison tool to choose from among the many establishments. It must also guarantee greater transparency by avoiding tricky clauses for learner drivers.
What does the standard driving school contract contain?
This contract must therefore include the definition of the training, the number of hours included, the prices of all services and options, the administrative costs, the terms for canceling a course (postponement or reimbursement) or the amount the reimbursement due to the student if he ends his apprenticeship en route. The standard contract will be mandatory from June 1, 2020. Watch Bruno Le Maire's presentation.
This contract should help future candidates for driving licenses to find their way among some 12,000 French driving schools and prevent them from being scammed. In the event of a dispute, the client should be better protected. The ease of comparison between institutions could also lead to a drop in the average price of training. This currently stands at around € 1,800 for 35 hours while the basic 20-hour package is generally displayed around € 1,000.
According to Bruno Le Maire, the series of measures which form part of the “standard contract”, including the establishment of an online comparator or the development of courses limited to automatic gearboxes, may allow a reduction in the training cost 30%.
A good measure to limit abuse
According to some of its representatives, the sector enthusiastically welcomes the implementation of the standard contract. Patrick Crespo, president of the CER network which brings together more than 500 driving schools and driver training centers, says that he has advocated for such a document for several years in order to put an end to the disparities in information existing between establishments.
According to him, the standard contract will limit abuses that may exist in certain pricing, such as booking fees or transfer fees, and will allow competition to be better played to lower prices. However, it stresses that a reduction in operating costs is necessary for a net reduction in tariffs. The possibility of operating up to 10 hours of the 20 hours of the basic program with a simulator, potentially grouping several students and machines under the supervision of a single employee during the second part of these 10 hours where the presence of 'a trainer is compulsory, is a lever to achieve this. But a reduction of 30% seems very ambitious to him. He estimates that the means currently put in place to lower prices can allow a reduction of around 15%.
Will the cost of training really go down?
According to the Opinion System, which collects and publishes customer opinions on voluntary driving schools according to a process certified by the Ministry of the Interior, such as VroomVroom for example, the target of 30% is clearly unattainable. According to its co-founder Jean-David Lépineux, who is delighted with the introduction of the compulsory standard contract for its informative and comparative virtues, margins currently below 5% do not allow driving schools to lower their prices.
He also points to the low number of places allocated each month for examining the permit in relation to the number of students, which leads to waiting times which are filled up with additional driving hours in order to stay level, and therefore a more salty final addition than the starting package.
Transparency of information and ease of comparison, however, seem to be unanimous in favor of the compulsory standard contract, apparently in any case, which is rare enough to be emphasized.
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